Entrepreneurs in Kentucky have already seen benefits from participating in the The Kentucky Angels Pitch Competition series. Winning companies from Murray, Elizabethtown, Ashland, Pikeville and Richmond are now preparing to present their plans to the entire Kentucky Angel Investor Network in Frankfort this fall. Three more competitions will be held in Louisville, Covington and Lexington this summer.
During a short interview, Murray winner Lula Luu, from Fin Gourmet had this say about the competition and gives Kentucky an “A+” when it comes to supporting entrepreneurs:
1. Why did you feel it was important to participate in the competition?
We’ve been in business since 2010. We started our business in the most cut-throat environment for a fish business: New Orleans, LA. There are no tangible resources to help small businesses like ours there. We’ve been through the mill with federal, state, and municipal organizations designed to help entrepreneurs but nothing ever materialized. When I saw the newsflash about what Governor Beshear and the KY Angel Network was trying to do to help start-ups, we were thrilled. It was more real than anything we’ve seen. Kentucky was willing to put not only money toward assistance but also enormous resources behind that. After I called and spoke with Loretta Daniel, we could hardly believe that there were no crazy hoops to jump through. She just stated matter-of-factly that we just need to call Mr. Jim Pape to apply. We followed up and Mr. Pape was very proactive and supportive. We never experience this in Louisiana.
2. What was your overall impression of the event?
This wasn’t a publicity stunt, like others we’ve been to in other states. Kentucky cares about promoting entrepreneurship. It was a great turnout. There were people from the economic development side, students, budding entrepreneurs who wanted to learned, and private businesses looking to invest. Dean Harvey, The Executive Director of KY Angel Network was there in person to make introductions and to show support. All this was very impressive because Kentucky is not just talking about supporting small start-ups, they’re doing it!
3. What was the most valuable part of the experience?
As nerve-wracking as it was to present to an expert panel of judges, the most valuable part of the experience was the feedback I received during the Q&A from the judges. That exchange really allowed us to affirm what we knew but showed us different ways the public and investors may be thinking about our business. It certainly offered us opportunities to improve on our sales pitch and marketing plans.
4. Would you encourage other entrepreneurs to participate in pitch competitions? Why?
Definitely! As a professor, one of the goals I try to impart to my students is how to handle critiques. Any critique whether negative or positive is an opportunity to grow and to strengthen. This competition offers so many opportunities for start-ups to grow, internally and externally. Getting valuable feedback from other successful entrepreneurs is always priceless.
5. How well do you believe Kentucky is doing to support entrepreneurs and small business owners?
I would give Kentucky an A+. Our participation in the competition has already opened many doors for us. We found that the infrastructure here in Kentucky has been really supportive to us and to our business. We feel nurtured and that our success is very important to Kentucky. That means so much to us!
The next Pitch Competition will be held in Louisville on July 23rd at Greater Louisville Inc. You can register to attend here.
Lula Luu, pictured above, received first place in the KY Angels Pitch Competition in Murray, June 17, 2014.